ISAAC Heeney is coming off a career-best season but after the first faultless summer in his short career, the Sydney youngster wants to have a more consistent impact on the competition in 2019.
Not satisfied with his fourth-place finish in the Bob Skilton Medal and his mark of the year award for a stunning leap against Melbourne at the MCG in round 21, a fit and healthy Heeney realises his importance to his team.
The highly rated Swans Academy product battled knee tendinitis in his first couple of seasons, contracted glandular fever in 2017, and had knee surgery last year, so his pre-season history isn’t full of positives.
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But the 22-year-old has been a standout at Sydney’s training sessions over the past three months and told AFL.com.au that he’s excited by what he can achieve this year now that he finally has a base to build from.
“It will definitely improve the way I run out games, I think, and I think I’ll be able to play at a higher intensity for longer periods,” he said.
I’m not necessarily looking at spending more time out on the ground – it’s about impact.
“I want to have more impact playing as an inside midfielder and also when I go forward.
“If I’m forward I can’t just be there resting, I’ve got to make sure I’m having an influence and hitting the scoreboard, so that’s the goal this year.”
Heeney averaged 20.4 disposals in 22 games last season, slightly down on his previous year (20.6 from 20 matches), and kicked 19 goals, but while he expects to spend more time as a midfielder in 2019, he’s not solely focused on racking up more numbers.
“Everybody wants to increase the amount of footy they’re getting, but I think it’s more about increasing my efficiency when I do get it,” he said.
“You can really open up a game these days even with a limited number of possessions.”
The Swans named a new-look leadership group in December and in a sure sign of his standing at the club in just his fifth season, Heeney was elevated into the eight-man team with fellow youngsters Callum Mills and Tom Papley.
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He said the chance to work closely with co-captains Josh Kennedy, Luke Parker and Dane Rampe, and veterans Jarrad McVeigh and Nick Smith, is an exciting one.
Heeney also spoke of the advantages of having experienced duo McVeigh and Kieren Jack still playing with the Swans.
“It’s massive for me to be able to look to ‘Macca’ and ‘Kizza’ for advice, who were captains of the club through such a successful period,” he said.
“They’re still great leaders and we all look up to them and respect them as much as ever.
“If I can bounce things of them I will, and I already have been this pre-season.”